Joyce Grenfell Archive


Joyce Grenfell (1910-1979) was a British comedienne who was the Queen of the comic monologue, and was an acclaimed comedy performer on stage, radio and television. She started her training at RADA in 1927, but left after six months, claiming "I think I lost interest in acting in plays because I found it too restrictive".

Her first stage performance was in the revue Light and Shade by Herbert Farjeon in 1939 at the Little Theatre, London. She performed in a number of other revues in the West End before joining ENSA and going on tours to entertain troops stationed in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

After the War she continued to star in revues working with celebrities such as Noel Coward and Max Adrian. Her first solo act was called Joyce Grenfell Requests the Pleasure (1954) at the Fortune and St Martin's Theatre, which she eventually took to the USA. She continued to perform her monologues and songs until the late 1960's.

Joyce wrote monologues, songs, and poems, working alongside Richard Addinsell for the musical accompaniment to her songs. She also collaborated with Stephen Potter for the How radio series. Her most famous film role was as Sergeant Gates in the St Trinian's films in the 1950's, and she also starred in The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950) and Laughter in Paradise (1951).

What the collection holds

The Joyce Grenfell Archive is a personal collection which contains correspondence, drawings, monologues, scripts for radio and television, as well as books and photographs that reflect her talents, interests and contacts in the entertainment industry. It is on loan from Claremont Fan Court School.

The online catalogue for this collection can be viewed here: 
JG - The Joyce Grenfell Archive

Further information

N.B. Photocopies of Joyce Grenfell's original manuscript music scores can be made for the purpose of private study only. For all other purposes, including public performance, written permission must first be obtained from all the copyright holders.

Further Reading

  • Darling Ma: Letters to her Mother, 1932-1944 by Joyce Grenfell
  • Joyce Grenfell Requests the Pleasure by Joyce Grenfell (1976)
  • George Don't Do That by Joyce Grenfell (1977)
  • Joyce Grenfell In Pleasant Places by Joyce Grenfell (1980)
  • Turn Back the Clock - Joyce Grenfell her Best Monologues and Songs by Joyce Grenfell, Richard Addinsell, William Blezard & Donald Swann (1983)
  • Stately As A Galleon & Other Songs & Sketches by Joyce Grenfell (1998)
  • Hats Off: Poems & Drawings by Joyce Grenfell & Janie Hampton (2000)
  • Joyce Grenfell by Janie Hampton (2002)
  • My Kind of Magic: Joyce Grenfell by Janie Hampton (2004)

Related material in the TC Collection:
HF - Herbert Farjeon

Other Useful Sites
Joyce Grenfell on the British Comedy Site

Front cover of Joyce Grenfell's
Music score for Oh! Mr Du Maurier, from Noel Coward's revue Sigh No More, 1945 Image credit: University of Bristol Theatre Collection
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